Acting Comptroller to Focus on Innovation, Fintech

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks will focus on promoting “responsible innovation” in the banking sector and continuing OCC modernization, he said in a statement upon taking office from former Comptroller Joseph Otting.

“Some of that work includes defending our authority to issue bank charters that support companies’ ability to engage in the business of banking on a national scale, including taking deposits, lending money, or paying checks,” said Brooks. “We should support banks’ use of new technology, products, and models that safely and fairly accelerate the velocity of money, create greater financial inclusion and empower consumers and businesses with more control over their financial affairs.”

Brooks also said he would support the “valid when made” doctrine—finalizing a rule to that effect later in the day—and specify parameters for the OCC’s special-purpose national bank charter. He added in a Barefoot Innovation Podcast interview that he would conduct a regulatory review to identify and update “every instance where our regulatory environment embeds a legacy technology—every regulation that mandates the use of a fax machine.”

Meanwhile, after months of remote work in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the OCC will reopen its offices on June 21. “In-person supervision is such an important part of the OCC’s DNA,” Brooks said. “Bank supervision can’t really happen remotely. . . . Fraud usually gets detected by walking the hallways and sitting in meetings and observing nonverbal cues which lead you to learn things. That can’t necessarily be done by a scheduled Zoom call; you have to be there.”